Wednesday, January 5, 2022

A Short Message on Giving and Receiving Discrimination

 I would think we all have a story about experiencing some form of discrimination?  

My city was mostly Catholic. I remember looking down upon Protestants. Our minority group of "color" was a small "poor" conclave of Portuguese living downtown with a tannish skin color, probably reflecting an ancestry from North African Morocco immigrants. When my physician father made house calls in their neighborhood, I carried in the groceries “to make sure the children had food.” Even when I reached high school, I did not realize that the very light skinned star running back of our football team was from African American heritage, until he brought a fairly dark skinned date to his senior prom. 

I was also a recipient of discrimination. When I was young, I was "beat up" very often. Those who were older from "tougher backgrounds" found me to be an easy target. I understand the feeling of being powerlessness when held down by a superior force. 

In kindergarten I was put in a closet after kicking down a block “castle” another student constructed. In first grade, I was spanked in front of the class by Miss Manix. I do understand the feeling of humiliation. My third grade teacher wrote that I was a very bright student who unfortunately preferred to act like a baby. Now in my seventh decade, as a white, very educated, male, senior citizen, I have a strong understanding of these examples that prove White Privilege Exists

When I was a senior in college, Dr. Martin Luthor King was assassinated. On the very next day one of the most historically famous experiments was conducted in a 3rd grade class in a small, all white Iowa town, by teacher Jane Elliott. She opened a lot of eyes and at the same time was threatened by people who did not like her findings! 

A Summary of this "Classic" about Discrimination

The Frontline Film about her experiment (First Aired in 1985)

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Lessons from History


No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for these are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history. ~ Will & Ariel Durant

I began my day with a guided meditation from the Mindful Movement, breathing and listening to words that helped me create deeper relaxation and heightened my awareness of my body in the present moment. I was encouraged to shower myself with smiles of gratitude and self-love in a process of healing. It has been decades since I first engaged in meditation, then moving forward tentatively under the impression that I did not know what I was doing. Now I know everyone is unique and there is no right or wrong way and that people reach meditative states of consciousness through many diverse forms of practice. 

I facilitated basic meditation interactive workshops numerous times at professional counseling conferences, orchestrating processes like visualizations, chanting and breathing. (Handout) I have reached the conclusion that everyone who wants to participate effectively in the labor force, can benefit from embracing wellness practices. It seems to me that we do get a better understanding by looking at our personal evolution with openminded gentleness, balancing our personal acceptance with as positive a slant as possible.

I am in the first week facilitating the  December GCDF Training. The students are getting familiar with the learning platform. They are hearing it is my job to serve their needs and that I love doing it! The current  discussions revolve around policy, technology  and the history of workforce development, as an orientation to the 12 Core CareerDevelopment Competencies we will fully explore during the next three months.  

Well into my second decade instructing, first in classroom and fully online since 2009, my journey is now is about bringing the experience to an ever evolving level of Artistry. With a cadre of other instructors that have refined their delivery over the years, we bring in the latest concepts with significant diversity of thought and share in the joy of receiving incredible appreciation for our efforts.

I give a lot of time to this endeavor because I believe practitioners and those they serve have a need to feel worthwhile and be productive. Everyone has a unique set of values, interests, aptitudes and skills and logically will be most successful doing work they truly love. When people are on a healthy path that fits who they are, they will embrace education and training, accept words from mentors, experience hope, be motivated and become empowered to explore levels of excellence. They will find and be proud of their own personal expression of engagement.  We provide services to meet the needs of career and workforce development professionals so that they can deliver services to those they serve. Is not helping people experience truly worthwhile employment at a decent rate of pay a very noble endeavor?

In addition to the group public discussions, during the first week students are introduced to their personal Blog, a place to electronically keep a diary or journal of their thoughts as they engage. Keeping track as life unfolds provides a written history that helps us understand our world, ourselves, others, change, society, and the decision making process. All of this helps us better appreciate our personal evolution. There are tools available to engage every possible learning style.  Throughout the training I will share exerts from my current online Blog, Employment Counseling for the 21st Century.

I have encountered academics spouting the belief that a scientific research resource becomes obsolete within 5 years.  I ask them if they really mean that is only possibly true when new information has “proven” that the thoughts and conclusions in the older documents are no longer accepted universally as correct knowledge. Especially today, we need to understand the past and explore sources of information and understand lateral reading. Education is gift worth opening with a critical eye, as often as possible when opportunities are presented along our path. Whatever we choose to pursue, it is just a lot more fun when we reach the higher levels of achievement and success.

This is one of the best online training courses I've ever taken. You are an amazing instructor, coach, professor. I enjoyed your wonderful stories, your experience and history. I appreciate the varies different speakers along with everyone's feedback and perspective. … I'm more seasoned in many areas. Thank you Michael for such a great opportunity for us all in this course and making this experience wonderful and memorable. ~ Treniska  Bonner 2021 GCDF Graduate

Monday, April 19, 2021

In Search of the Truth

Fake News is believed by most to be a deliberate distortion or fabrication of information spread by media or social network sources. Propaganda is often viewed as bias or misleading information generated to promote or publicize a particular political idea. Marketing on the other hand is more accepted in the mainstream. Portrayed as scientifically based with the possibility of earning Degrees through higher education, it is generally described as the study of methods and strategies to put products and services in the hands of consumers. All three are about persuading people to accept particular points of view.  All three have been discussed in terms of ethics. While fake news and propaganda by nature tend to be regarded as amoral, marketing actually has a federal law that says that “ an ad must be truthful, not misleading, and when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.” FTC Truth in Advertising.

The Internet, advancing Technology and social media have complicated the picture. In the 21st century just about anybody can publish and disseminate their point of view and actually in fairly sophisticated fashion. As consumers of information in the digital information age, we get to choose what we want to believe and what we want to see and now there are algorithms to help us.  Basically they are  processes or rule-sets that are programmed into computers to solve problems. While physicists and scientists and other professionals use them to facilitate solving a multitude of technical issues, browsers and social media platforms use them to determine our preferences. Be assured, your political preferences and buying habits are very quickly determined and you will receive “marketing” to extract your vote and money. Of course it is comforting to receive confirmation that our beliefs are correct and it is nice to get our product desires fulfilled with greater speed.  But, we also know that some of those selling ideas or  products or services, will sometimes mislead. 

We are all unique and we all have our own personal beliefs and core values we have acquired through life experience. The vast majority of us also have a personal smart phone with an extensive library of information. However, too many do not explore Lateral Reading. In essence, rather than fully engaging by taking a deep dive into every aspect of an article, a website, or any “marketing pitch” we find online, we instead choose to become fact checkers. We open another window and search for opposing points of views. We check the validity of the information as it is being presented by scanning other websites and research sources or reviews, to get additional opinions. The process helps us understand, providing other interpretations to help us determine if we are consuming fake news, propaganda, a marketing campaign or well researched and fairly reliable sources of factual truth. Student Fact Checkers is well worth exploring. . 

Added to the mix, are “scientific facts” and “academic research” which are reported over and over again, becoming mainstream beliefs,  until the day when new information unveils a new understanding and we come to a realization that perhaps we have been wrong! Unfortunately, far too many people in the world of Career Development and Employment Counseling have become stagnant, operating with outdated information. 

In Working Ahead, Moving Forward™, NECA’s GCDF Training, we explore concepts from many different directions in an attempt to elevate consciousness. We move beyond the delivery of “text book” education and explore thoughts that are needed to be successful in the 21st Century. We customize the training to the needs of each student as they participate and continually elicit “ah ha moments,” a sudden, more expanded understanding. Clearly in the 21st Century with an abundance of information coming from many different directions, we are all challenged to not only adopt a commitment  to ongoing education, but to continually evaluate what we are choosing to believe. 

When it comes to the future of work, “late adopter” is the same thing as “out of business.” ~   Jacob Morgan

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Resilience and Renewal, the Promise of a New Year!

  “She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” – Elizabeth Edwards

2020 provided a quite incredible ending to the first decade of the 21st Century. It was far more than protests and demonstrations reaching alarming heights, coming from many directions, while a shift in national politics was unfolding. The Worldwide Pandemic unleashed a flood of accelerating Trends within an evolving Universe and the unfolding of the Labor Market. While buying products online and long distance electronic communications were already on the rise, they were both accelerated dramatically with the shutdown of many storefront operations and the growth of significant domestic sequestration. The “official” unemployment rate shot up from a pre-COVID February number around 3.5% to a whopping 14.7% during April and even at the end of the year was still over double the early year numbers, hovering around 6.7%. Of course, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics only counts those in the labor force which they defined as people who have looked for a job in the last four weeks. The real unemployment rate according to TheBalance, a part of the publishing family, offers calculations that include the underemployed, marginally attached and discouraged workers. They reported a 22.8% rate at the April height and an end of year rate still hovering around 12%.

Last summer on 60 Minutes, Taiwanese-born American Educated computer scientist Dr. Kai-Fu Lee explained how Artificial Intelligence will continue to replace repetitive functions on jobs, making the rather startling statistic of a loss at “40% of Jobs Worldwide during the next 15 years. “ Dr. Lee’s doctoral dissertation was about a computer speech recognition system. He worked as an executive with Apple, Silicon Graphics, Microsoft and Google on way to launching Beijing based Sinovation Ventures.  His latest book is “AI Super-powers China, Silicon Valley, New World Order.” 

As businesses were scrambling to survive the loss of COVID 19 sequestered employees and customers,  Time ran the story, “Millions of Americans Have Lost Jobs in the Pandemic – And Robots and AI Are Replacing Them Faster Than Ever.” 

Manufacturing is still alive and has been showing growth in the US Economy, but it is not because of returning employers that left for a less expensive 3rd world unskilled labor force. To function in a high wage country, factories must be high tech and employees are no longer laborers with low education. Employers are advertising for people with”

  •   Knowledge of mechanical and electrical engineering processes
  •   Ability to work with computerized systems
  •   Ability to read and write machine programming code
  •   Ability to read manufacturing blueprints
  •   Ability to operate automated manufacturing systems
  •   Understanding of hydraulic, pneumatic, and electrical systems


Employment and Career Development Counseling most certainly will be in demand  as the economy continues to evolve. While there is a flood of high tech options entering human consciousness, the draconian scenario of being overrun by superior androids, are not predicted by respectable computer scientists as part of the near future.  AI is great at collecting and analyzing huge amounts of data and able to make predictions about human behavior (what we are likely to look at and perhaps buy). But computers do not have emotions or feeling, cannot experience empathy and really are not creative.

As counselors we listen to the stories of those we serve and help them reframe their perceptions into healthier approaches of interacting with the universe. Of course we can appreciate the evolving technology, as available tools to help us provide the best possible information. Because it is our trade we have the experience navigating career and employment systems and can facilitate an easier journey for our customers. Traditionally employment counseling has been described as Choice, Change or Adjustment. We help people find their optimum path, make decisions about what they want to do. Sometimes they are in transition, needing a new job or training to move in a different career direction. Sometimes the conversations are about behavioral modifications or attitude adjustments to function better, stay employed, and grow positively within an organization.

To take our profession to a level of artistry, I believe we need to understand labor market trends, make a commitment to life long learning, and associate with people who are embracing optimistic and healthy expressions of existence. Fundamentally however, at the heart of counseling is an ability to deliver kindness with unconditional positive regard. We feel the energy when we touch a soul and know when we are truly engaged in healing.

There is an incredible amount of work to be done and new opportunities are continually emerging. We choose our sources of information and together we are all contributing to the ongoing evolution of the universe.

Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.                                                          ~Edwin Hubbel Chapin





Sunday, March 22, 2020

Thoughts on the Assessment Process

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.  ~    Carl Jung

As I write these words, I am a senior citizen, sequestered on my wildlife sanctuary homestead. A Pandemic is causing the shutdown of the world around me.  Health authorities are responding to a respiratory illness called COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus. Scientific leaders are reporting that we do not yet have adequate tools to access, much less halt this highly contagious threat, especially to the elderly and others with compromised immunity.  The major prescription is social distancing and hand washing. Economists report a growing number facing unemployment as businesses are on a roller coaster in steep decline. With major cities going to lockdown we are moving quickly towards depression. This is unpresented in my lifetime and the future is uncertain to say the least.

I started my Counseling Career within the NJ Department of Labor working for the Public Employment Services. Developed during the 1930s the GATB (General Aptitude Test Battery) was the test we used supposedly to assess “Cognitive (G,V,N), Perceptual (S,P,Q) and Psychomotor (K,F,M) abilities.  GATB Career Assessment Research  Back then, the last three decades of the 20th Century, if people were interested in funded training they were routinely “tested” as a step in the process and it was not uncommon to test applicants if requested by employers.  I had coworkers who marketed our services to employers, at no cost because we were the government, which served our needs to protect our jobs helping our job applicants find gainful employment. I had coworkers that were “certified” who administered and monitored the standardized, timed tests, in specified environments. I did not test, but I was taught to interpret the results.

I was serving a client who scored well above average in eight of the tests and well below average in one. It did not make sence to me and I thought, unless perhaps subconsciously she had self-sabotaged.  Every training and every job had a minimum set of numbers people had to hit for consideration and her one low score eliminated virtually all options. As I recall that was the theme of our counseling session. I did remember from graduate school in the course on statistics, that while hitting numbers on achievement tests and aptitude tests “proved” a person possessed the ability, not hitting the numbers was not proving otherwise. I read an article the other day about coronavirus testing and the statistical possibility of false negatives and false positives.  Yes, I know they are dealing with a life threatening situation, but my understanding, my experience, is through the lens of employment counseling.

I suppose employers who used our tests to “ensure” they had “qualified” prospective new employees, were putting a lot of faith in the value of the procedure. However, I remembered a fraternity brother in college who had lost considerable money at the race track and found it necessary to apply for a position at the local convenience store. He had been given a test supposedly to measure not only cognitive abilities, but also the degree of his honesty. He was an upperclassman, quite intelligent, scored exceptionally well in math and verbal ability and was laughing at how easily he saw through the attempts to unveil his veracity. Yesterday, a Facebook friend posted about Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai writing, “The coronavirus fear-mongering by the Deep State will go down in history as one of the biggest frauds to manipulate economies, suppress dissent, & push MANDATED Medicine!” His source was the heavily “right” leaning, conservative Western Journal. Obviously, every situation, every assessment test, has a wide variety of interpretations about truth. Looking at alternative sources is called Lateral Reading, a fact checker tool!  

Today we have an incredible array of instruments available, formal and informal assessments, to give us clues about test takers.   As helping professionals, our task is to ensure the appropriate use of assessment, research, and evaluation techniques. We have to consider with our “customers” the purpose of assessment, what we want to measure and why, and help in the process of exploration. We need to acquire and elicit an understanding of assessment devices that claim to measure strengths, personality preferences, work values and a host of various other options.

Using a test professionally in the Career Development or Employment Process undoubtedly is related to a theory which holds some truth for us or the person we are serving. When I wrote my Thesis on Employment Counseling back in 1975, I took many of the major assessments available at the time and wrote about their value in relationship to me. The experience was quite enlightening.

Hopefully we consult with colleagues to hear about the value they have experienced using such tools with their clients. I know members of the Association for Research and Assessment in Counseling who revel in reading about the validity and reliability of standardized formal assessment, measuring algorithms, contemplating design, accuracy and scientific approach. Many libraries offer access to the Mental Measurements Yearbook containing information and critical evaluations, pros and cons, of educational and psychological tests.  

Assessment products are quite diverse in Career Counseling and yet, often we see many of the same components. O*NET is the federal government’s Occupational Information System, our country’s primary source of occupational information.  It also contains an Interest Profiler, Work Importance Locator, Work importance Profiler, Skills Search and Ability Profiler and many pathways of interconnection.  Because its creation was funded by tax payer dollars, everything is open source and free of charge. Many companies have created their own systems for sale using O*NET components. If you have taken a Counseling Theory class, you are familiar with the Self Directed Search , based on John Holland’s RIASEC Theory, the classification of people and environments into six basic types.  Career Key , is quite popular in College Counseling Centers, focusing on finding a college major in relationship to career, incorporating RIASEC.

As a Baby Boomers, I remember in elementary school, sticking a pin through answers about preferences in a packaged paper tool called the Kuder  preference test. Today the online Kuder Journey is popular in Military Career Counseling and many school systems. Fun assessments, some with considerable sophistication, start early in life. The Northwest Evaluation Association is a nonprofit that offers a large list of digital tools for teachers on their NWEA Blog.   

Helping people tell their story is clearly at the core of the assessment process. We know the medical professionals give us forms to get our past history and ask us questions about how we feel and observe our actions. Consciously and unconsciously we all are measuring body language and emotional expressions.  In career counseling, tools like the Genogram help look at family history and the possible influences of our relatives and ancestors. Mind Mapping is a process of drawing associations, starting from anywhere, and continuing to construct paths in any direction, as relationships and ideas come into our mind. Electronic Portfolios expand beyond the resume and give us the opportunity to assess who we are as we display talents and personal creations.

Moving away from cognitive approaches, more artistic practitioners find that Music, Art, Sand Tray and other non-verbal approaches can provide considerable insights as assessment tools. Medical School Education is also now embracing a more artistic curriculum, “Professors argue that engaging in the arts during medical school, whether through required courses or extracurricular activities, is valuable in developing essential skills that doctors need, like critical thinking and observational and communication skills, as well as bias awareness and empathy.” ~

When our lives are too hectic, we have too large a case load or are responding to a medical crises with a sence of urgency looming above in a very dark cloud, the stress can be overwhelming. Self-care is mandatory and at minimum short breaks for positive meditative visualizations are my prescription.  

Assessment begins as soon as we begin to collect information. Hopefully our intake procedure and that of our front line coronavirus warriors is well designed and we all are asking the right questions. When we engage, from a sociological perspective, we can consider environmental and cultural influences that might be in play. However, from a psychological perspective we must never forget that a unique individual is before us. By establishing a trusting relationship and asking questions for clarification and actively listening, their world will unfold into our consciousness.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.    ~   Michelangelo

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Cultivate Artistry

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. ~ William Shakespeare

During sophomore year in High School I was challenged in World History by one of the best teachers I would ever encounter.  One day he asked if anyone wanted to teach a class and I raised my hand. I was afraid I might stumble and get laughed at and it did happen. But, at the end of my presentation, the class clapped for me and I was hooked. I joined the drama club and performed one of the leads in our club play.

I attended undergraduate school at the University of Miami and received an incredible social education. Unfortunately, on the academic side of the equation, I was placed on academic probation after my first semester in school and entered my senior year in danger of not achieving the “ 2.0 C” average needed to graduate. There was a drama professor who provided the pathway that allowed me to graduate, raising my average to exactly one more credit of B than D. I took every undergraduate course he taught and with special permission, a graduate course in playwriting. In every first class he announced that if a student missed a class their highest grade was a B, two classes a C, three classes a D, four classes a failure, no exceptions. There were no written tests. He evaluated by questioning and interacting with the students. With perfect attendance, the lowest grade would be a B, and adequate participation guaranteed an A!  In all his classes, he would call upon students, give them a scenario, and elicit an impromptu display of “acting.”   For example, “Michael and Michele, you are 80 years old in rocking chairs on a porch, reminiscing about your lives. Do it.”   I ended up Minoring in Drama. In Playwriting, I wrote a one man adaption of the play from High School, delivering a performance to the class on the last day before winter break, including an arranged and immediate upon completion, early exit from class, “to catch a plane home.”  I listened to a robust accolade as I departed. When we are really good and capture an audience, it feels fantastic and making a dramatic exit is showmanship!

I took the Graduate Record Examinations my junior year at the University of Miami with quite pathetic results. Eight years later, with my 2.03 undergrad record, I was turned down for admission to graduate school at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). However, admissions allowed me to take a couple of courses as a non-matriculated student to prove ability. One of the courses was “History During the Time of Christ,” taught by a non-Christian Scholar. We read the Gospels included in the New Testament and he told us “what we know” about the authors and those to whom they were writing. We also considered many of the apocryphal gospels, those not considered to contain authentic information by the church leaders of the time. Of course I was trying to prove myself so I was ready for the first exam and dutifully constructed answers to the essay questions. I received a B minus with the comment that what I wrote looked a lot like what he delivered during the classes and he would not be so lenient in the future if I was unable to provide my own thoughts about what we were exploring.   

Heck, he has the ability to make topics I did not even think I cared about interesting...that is talent. ~ C Katherine DeStefano PhD, describing Michael C. Lazarchick

So Niels Bohr is credited with saying that an expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field. I took risks and started making my public speaking mistakes very early in life, and evolved, each time finding new solutions to perfect my craft and build in mechanisms to ensure outstanding results. My experience grew as I delivered workshops and training sessions daily for years in my work helping people explore employment, often more than one group a day.

I have spoken in a wide variety of venues, from very short to hours long on a fairly wide of topics. I have so much confidence that if asked, I will deliver a presentation to virtually any audience on any topic, with a few minutes prep time,  if that is all we have.  I learned how to entertain, to be an actor and draw from my truth about what that means. I have short humorous stories, jokes, I am very experienced at delivering and do explore options when I have information about those expected to attend. Laughter releases endorphins, endogenous morphine, natural, healing, feel good drugs. I became familiar with the basics of body language and give thought to the environment and composition of each audience. If people exhibit any type of distraction, I will interact and attempt to bring them into the presentation with gentleness and skill.

There are many actions or situations that provide an opportunity to “teach.”  When I delivered One Stop Orientations, mandatory for individuals collecting unemployment insurance or on public assistance, the letter “inviting” participation instructed people to come on time to avoid a possible disruption of their benefits, in bold highlighted text. Because I had no idea what obstacles people overcame to showing up late, I kept the door open for 15 minutes. When a new person arrived they got my attention and I stared with why are you late? I would address their circumstances and perhaps offer options to ensure being on time for scheduled events. I might tell them they were creating a distraction or showing disrespect for those who did show on time. I would always ask the audience if we should let them in, of course adding the possible loss of benefits, if we did not. I became quite capable of manipulating a suitable level of discomfort and comfort, acting with honesty from the heart.

I continually explore the views of others on techniques that improve delivery and capture the attention of audiences. One of Many on the Subject. However, I embrace the non-traditional thoughts and resources that offer to bring new ideas and sometimes healing into my work. For example, Neurologic Music Therapy has shown remarkable positive results serving people with disabilities, using rhythmic pattern of sound to turn on or stimulate inactive areas in the brain.   Some Research from the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function  I know I get pleasant feeling listening to music that was popular at my high school dances and there has been significant research for years about the value to just about everybody of Listening to Music. I was at a workshop with hearing impaired individuals, laughing with joy, expressing wonder, feeling the vibrations on the floor from playing music. When the right sounds are in the air, people move, people dance.

My Graduate School Professor gave me a B for one of, if not the greatest efforts, I have ever delivered in a classroom. He also gave me the understanding that everyone has their own unique understanding about reality. When we listen to others, it helps them understand as they express their thoughts. Ultimately however, we must form our own opinion and express our views, for our own understanding.

I love being on stage and I write often. Communications, both written and verbal, come easy to me, with significant natural talent, lots of experience and dedication to pursuing excellence. When we bring our gifts to a level of artistry, we unleash magnificent creativity and honor the consciousness of an evolving, living, energy filled universe.     

Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity. ~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Barmaid Teaches the Young Counselor a Lesson!

The sailors come off the ship after months out at sea. They come to a bar sign, walk down a short flight of concrete steps and enter a dark, dank establishment. There is loud and foul language in the air. The establishment does not smell clean.  An aging barmaid with excessive, perhaps garish make-up, clearly looking older than her real age, is serving shots of booze and beer. When we hear her speak words we detect a crudeness and probable lack of education.

This is the woman that was sitting across from me, on public assistance, needing a plan for reemployment. It was Friday the end of a long work week. It was early in my career.  My experience and skills were very limited. Since she had not finished high school, I ask her if she wanted to attend the Learning Center for a GED.  She laughed and asked me if I was serious. No one had ever offered her further education or even suggested training. I told her, "Of course. You can go over to the community college, take the placement test and begin study on Monday." She took the referral.

When I entered my office Monday morning, the phone rang and the director of the learning center began rattling off reasons why my latest referral could not be accepted. 

  • She is barely reading at a fifth grade level. 
  • Her math skills are extremely limited, despite handling money and making change continually in her past work. 
  • She would be taking up space preventing other students with real potential from getting into the program.
  • She has no chance of being successful.
  • She was not appropriate.

I felt a little anger swell and it prompted me to threaten to pull out all of our business and financial support.  We paid when our customers got into the Center. My client got to start that day.

By the end of the week I was becoming increasingly nervous, thinking the director might talk to my supervisor in the Department of Labor Special Programs Office. I was the newest counselor in the WIN program fresh out of graduate school.  I did not have the power to carry out my threat and I did not want to be chastised for an inappropriate behavior. I visited the learning center to see how my client was doing and found her reading a book that looked much like the ones we used when my son was first learning to read. I made the decision to visit the Learning Center often, so that I could pull her out the moment she got frustrated.

Every time I visited, she was in her chair focusing on her work, day after day, week after week and the journey turned into months. I told her if she was feeling too much stress we could look for other options. She chose to continue the journey and did nothing that would cause removal.  I witnessed a transformation taking place. The Barmaid began to dress better, I suppose because of the environment and increasingly looked more and more like a student. It was nearly eight months after we first met that my client was accepted into Casino Security Guard Training. After passing her High School Equivalency exam, her options had expanded. She was placed easily into an entry level Casino Job and her first year income tripled her best year as a Barmaid. She stopped me on the street in Atlantic City and gave me a big hug.
Maybe her counselor experienced second thoughts and the Director was sure she could not succeed. But, not my Barmaid. She had no idea that she was incapable of earning a GED.   
I had to make a decision about whether it would impact how I felt about trusting people, and I decided I wasn't going to allow it to impact my outlook on trust, because I believe trust is a choice.  I've always given people the benefit of the doubt until they prove me otherwise. So, it just made me stronger in my conviction about that, but it also taught me never to put anything past anyone.  ~  Boris Kodjoe

#GCDF #Get Certified #Michael C. Lazarchick